Tim Burton, you're making me nervous. (updated)

Dear Tim Burton,

Okay, so Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is my favorite children’s novel of all time ever, and since you’re one of the most visually inventive directors in the business, I was pretty excited when I read that you were doing a live action/CGI 3D adaptation of the book (always retitled Alice in Wonderland in movie versions, despite hundreds of other, far longer movie titles) for Disney, despite the fact that I loathe the motion capture technology they’ve used to make Polar Express and Beowulf. The “animation” just looks stiff and lifeless, despite all the obvious strides that have been made in the field.

But I was really hoping that the humans, at least, would be live action. But then Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Mia Wasikowska (HBO’s In Treatment) was in final negotiations to star as your Alice. So either Alice won’t be live action — which would make me nervous — or you’re actually casting an 18 year old as Alice, who should be around ten — which would make me even more nervous. Didn’t you tell Sci-Fi Wire that you’ve “never seen a version where I feel like they got it all”? And I loved you for it, because it’s true.

Maybe Mia Wasikowska can play young; she certainly looks young, though I’d be surprised if she could pass for pre-pubescent. The books are a love letter to that seemingly perpetual state of wonder innocent children live in… you know, hence “Wonderland”?

Don’t break my heart, please.

UPDATE (7/30): Johnny Depp (possibly) appearing as the Mad Hatter doesn’t bother me, but come on, there are other people who could’ve been just as good and look the part a little more…

(Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is being scripted by The Lion King‘s Linda Woolverton and is targeting a 2010 release.)

Posted on July 24, 2008 at 18:43 by Gordon@MovieMakeout · Permalink
In: News · Tagged with: 

11 Responses

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  1. Written by Jason
    on 2008-07-25 at 12:01
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    Oh for the love of…This is going to suck. If he couldn’t get Planet of the Apes right, how’s he going to get such an amazing piece of literature right? Not that anyone could do Alice right on film (what with all the allusions and references to history, literature, language etc being the first thing that gets cut in the name of brevity), but still…Burton?

  2. Written by Gordon McAlpin
    on 2008-07-25 at 12:11
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    I thought Planet of the Apes turned out okay, up until that confusing what-the-fuck ending — which (reading the Wikipedia entry) was apparently supposed to be a cliffhanger, setting up the sequel, not a “twist” — and is apparently closer to the original book’s.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planet_of_the_Apes_(2001_film)

  3. Written by shma
    on 2008-07-25 at 14:43
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    Planet of the Apes is not the movie to judge Burton on, especially when you’re discussing whether he is the right pick to adapt a children’s novel. Look at Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, or Big Fish. All excellent films which showcase his wild imagination and ability to bring fairy tales and children’s stories to the big screen. Scissorhands in particular stands out since the idea was entirely his own.

  4. Written by laddical
    on 2008-07-26 at 00:50
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    Beowulf and Polar Express weren’t Disney. Not saying that means a rotoscoped Alice in Wonderland will fare any better visually than those messes did, but let’s at least judge the House of Mouse on their own visual mess and not someone else’s.

  5. Written by Jason
    on 2008-07-26 at 16:01
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    Yeah, well, the original stories of Sleepy Hollow and Big Fish aren’t exactly of the caliber that Alice is.

  6. Written by Gordon
    on 2008-07-26 at 21:07
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    Tim Burton didn’t write either Sleepy Hollow or Big Fish.

  7. Written by DJ Purkis
    on 2008-07-27 at 08:29
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    I’ve got my money on Tim not ‘getting it’ either. Did you ever catch the version with Tina Majorino (from Andre…and Napolean Dynamite, I guess)? I can’t remember it well enough to make an assessment of any kind, but she was relatively young at the time (14) and she’s still really, really, really baby-faced.

  8. Written by Jason
    on 2008-07-27 at 12:51
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    “Tim Burton didn’t write either Sleepy Hollow or Big Fish.”

    Exactly my point. He didn’t screw up adapting those because they aren’t near the challenge adapting Alice is.

  9. Written by Genevieve Lopez
    on 2008-07-28 at 14:22
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    I just don’t think he’s the right guy for Alice/Wonderland because of how he tends to skew dark; not that it’s not great in some of his stuff and one of Burton’s trademarks, but is he marketing this to children through Disney? I don’t think the book is the kind of material easily translated to screen in a way that keeps enough of the frivolous “kid stuff” in it and is still enjoyable for adults, were it to have Burton’s mark on it, and vice versa. It’s just going to be extra arty and bizarre, like bringing a 5-year-old to Cirque du Soleil–they are just weirded out and not interested, it goes straight over their heads. They’re 5.

    It’s like with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; a big part of the book that I enjoyed as a child was the fake-friendly everything was going to be okay, while playing up the gruesome industrial accidents for laughs; as a kid, you’re dazzled by all the other parts of the story to the point where, like in most Roald Dahl books, the scary parts aren’t scary beyond the superficial fear until you sit down and think about them and their real impact (the “chokey” in Matilda, everything in The BFG). The first “Wonka” movie glossed over the darker aspects, but the Tim Burton one emphasized those elements to the point where as a kid I just think I’d be kind of nervous watching it the entire movie, and think it was really strange, and wouldn’t like it. Or I wouldn’t get it.

    I just don’t want another Return to Oz–a great idea, well-executed, but altogether too creepy to be watched, or to do well monetarily. But then, it could end up like The Labyrinth, or The Dark Crystal and become a cult classic. I don’t know. Maybe kids these days can take it like men.

  10. Written by Ben W
    on 2008-07-29 at 11:28
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    Tim Burton never got anything right that wasn’t entirely Tim Burton. Tim Burton failed at Planet of the Apes, he failed at Batman twice, and he screwed up James and the Giant Peach. The last one being the most damming when it comes to discussing how he’ll FUBAR Alice.

  11. Written by Gordon McAlpin
    on 2008-07-29 at 11:57
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    James and the Giant Peach was directed by Henry Selick.

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